Digital Citizenship – A Gamer’s Perspective. (Part 2 of 3)

Last week I introduced many of you to my ever changing world. This week I am going to continue my story as I talk about what I did as a teacher and gamer to help create change – that would eventually dribble into my student’s (and others) lives.

As I mentioned last week, I started to get involved with radio around the time I got into the college of education.  Radio had always been a passion of mine. I recall standing up and asking in a question during a Grade 9 Career Fair, “When are you going to play music other than Country around here?” to be told “Rock music will never come to this area on radio.” I got fueled and fired by this at a young age and the internet had all the answers to my prayers and more as I grew up.

My dream of being part of radio became a reality in a weird way that involved video gaming.  I was running around randomly adventuring in the video game “Guild Wars”, when I stumbled upon a group that were interacting in a very odd way in an MMO. They were being delightfully engaging, positive and seemed to have formed an inner community within the community already existing in my “MMO world”.  I stopped, I interacted and I became addicted to it.  So much that it wasn’t even a few weeks later that I wanted to help be part of this team.  The only roadblock at this point was my terribly awful internet connection that I had in the middle of rural Saskatchewan.

I didn’t let this roadblock stop me as I signed on to work on production. I dabbled in making introductions for hosts, advertisements and soon enough was on a dual ran show. However, as I continued down this road the common negativity of the internet was soon upon me and I had to walk away from this group in 2009. I was distraught. I had created a connection with a large group of people from all over the world. They interacted with me on a level that I definitely did not have among my friends and co-workers. They understood my nerdy quotes and my thrill for music. We were on the same level.  Many of the people that listened to my regular radio show ( that since 2007 had moved on to be a solo show) begged me not to leave the radio/video gaming community behind.

Well, this is where I definitely started to  make an impact on what I now come to know as my digital footprint and my evolving citizenship in a digital world. On my drive home from work one day, the song “What about now?” by Daughtry was playing on the radio and all I could think about in the jumble of my day was – Haiti, Making a Difference, Impact on my students, Radio, Gaming and Grading.  You know the typical teacher/gamer thoughts right? ( ha.)  I raced into my house and immediately started speaking to some of my closest friends in a Skype call. “What about THIS , how about THAT – could we DO IT?”   What was THIS and THAT you ask?  I soon got told to slow down a bit as what was spewing out of  my mouth was a radio station with a twist. A central hub for video gamers to make an impact globally by creating change together online.  “Gamer’s Giving Back”  “What do you think guys? Do you think it would work? Do you think others would hop on board and want to create change too?”  I owe my good friend Matthew Richey for saying, “Hey, I started you a Facebook Page – you are going to do this.” 

That was when the idea became reality – no turning back.  You see being a video gamer, allowed me to interact with so many people on so many different levels that I didn’t realize that on that very Skype call I had , a web designer, 2 other people with Dj/Radio experience and a graphics designer as well.  The website, radio stream and a team of young radio hosts started on their mission to create change.  Now- at this point some of you might say – wait, weren’t you teaching that whole time? YES! That is the crazy part! I was so driven that my attitude in the classroom began to change. I was happier, driven and my students began to benefit from what was unfolding and of course I included them ( You will hear more about THAT next week)

When I speak to students about brainstorming I relate back to the crazy brainstorming between the 6 people that helped me get the Gaming World Entertainment Network ( GW-EN) and Gamer’s Giving Back ( GGB) off the ground. We each took a part and went with it. Did some days fail?- OH YES! But, were they mainly positive? – you better believe it! We definitely had a steep learning curb of , domains, copyright, royalties, html code, graphics and social media.  GW-EN and GGB had a complete makeover since the official launch in 2010. The one thing we have always stayed loyal to, was making a difference. 

Now let’s rewind back to the beginning. Did you say Haiti? As many of you know, there was a lot of destruction in Haiti and I was determined to help in  my own way. So where does video gaming come into this?  Here is where I point out to you that a vast majority of people ranging from ages 12-65 ( younger and older even) are online in MMOs all over the world, daily, together in 1 instance.  What if you were online, in the gaming format, providing an entertainment side, but also including some positive aspects of giving back to society by just playing the video games you love. Changing the topics of say chat from ” You suck Noob ” to ” Hey, did you hear about that fundraiser that was happening for Haiti?”  Arenanet, the company that created Guild Wars, sat up and joined in.

Screenshot from Guild Wars 2 - Arenanet

A Pink Day in LA (Lion’s Arch) Ribbon to create Awareness.- Screenshot from Guild Wars 2 by Arenanet

Our first event was getting people ingame to change their armor to red to support those in Haiti. A small thing, but it raised awareness online in a global setting and raised over $1000. Nice start for a group of people with an idea of positive change right?  We went on to create other events like the Toga Party for MS and Pink Day in LA – for Multiple Sclerosis and Cancer Research. Among that we had other video gamers approaching us and saying, “Hey, I want to get involved with what you are doing!” The chat and buzz online was changing.  We went from a group of  6 people to a volunteer staff of 25 year round and with over 150-200 volunteers at our virtual fundraising events.  Volunteerism growing online! At the end of the day- I didn’t care if we were fundraising millions of dollars – we were changing the way players (people) were interacting with eachother online.  We started to notice others standing up against negativity. Guild Wars  and now Guild Wars 2 were 2 online communities that began to have a reputation of being positive place to video game. These communities were also setting precedence for other online gaming communities.

Over the past 4 years we have embraced everything from 24 hour video gaming marathons to watching a young man with Muscular dystrophy video game with a pencil in his mouth to raise money for his own disease to the simple act of a 9 year old wanting to donate his allowance to a good cause he saw in a video game. It definitely has changed my life and continues to change my life and now my student’s lives.

Next week I will talk to you about how my students are involved.  How digital citizenship definitely is something we can model in many ways. How we often don’t even realize that is what we are doing until we enter courses like this and think to ourselves – “Hey, I am modeling how to be a good citizen! WOOT!”

My story hasn’t ended with Gamer’s Giving Back and it is still evolving day to day. Before I end this post here are some great gaming related charity events that are coming up you should check out ( Go ahead, share them with your students – I do :)  )

 

- A Guild Wars 2 Community Guild called ENVY Teams up to livestream for St. Jude:

http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/PlayLive/PlayLive?px=2655010&pg=personal&fr_id=20860

- Mario Marathon – a great group that players Super Mario Brother’s Games for Child’s Play – a gamer related charity that donates video games and toys to kids in hospitals :

http://www.mariomarathon.com/

- and this weekend,  A Flight Simulating Game that travels across the Globe for Charity as well! Check it out here:

http://www.ironmanmode.com/archives/8542

 

Well  – that is all for now! Enjoy your week and make a difference.

Digital Citizenship – A Gamer’s Perspective. (Part 1 of 3)

WHOA! You, are a teacher and you play video games? 

If I had a dollar for every time I heard that, I would be able to retire and yes, play more video games. When people ask me that question it blows my mind away.  Obviously when my students ask me that question it comes from a “cooler” perspective like ” WOW! You are the best!” or  ” I would totally kick your butt in ______ video game.” However, when it comes from co-workers, parents and others it somewhat alarms me.  Why should you ask? Well – the answer is simple really, but let’s dive into the background story of why I am a gamer, even as a teacher and a grown adult for that matter.

From the time I was born, I always had a fascination with emerging myself in story.  I would spend many nights staying up with a flashlight reading until my mom or dad would come into my room and say, ” Rhonda, it is time to turn the lights out!” This continued on even after my dad brought home our first Sega Genesis Machine and I became even more fascinated with story through video games. Today, I play many MMOs – some of you might say MM -what?  MMO.  Honestly – these game styles changed my life in a good way.

"MMO Costumes" by Casilya Smith via Flickr

“MMO Costumes” by Casilya Smith via Flickr

I hear so many horror stories about gamers getting too addicted, quitting their jobs, killing sprees and many other things. Many of which should be discussed under Digital Citizenship for students and adults alike. Why is it that we only hear about these particular stories and  not the positive ones?  I decided that I was going to make it my mission to shed the light on the positive side of video gaming.  No, I am not saying that everyone should rush out and buy their kids video games and yes I am not into Grand Theft Auto (more on this particular game later) or First Person Shooter games. I instead enjoy throwing magical fireballs at people competitively and for fun.  Is this what I was going to shed light on – oh heck no!  It was something much more sensitive, expanded and amazing!  One word – community.

Everytime I would log on to an MMO – there was a buzz on chat. Something is always going on, both positive and negative. If you ever played any video game online you know this happens.  However – who was really teaching any of these people in these new online mmo worlds how to behave?  How should they really talk to eachother?  This is where I turn to the word – TROLL. 

Picture Courtesy of  AX174 via Flickr

Picture Courtesy of AX174 via Flickr

Trolls or more commonly known as the “negative” people on the internet were starting to show up everywhere. It was almost like rude people never existed before the internet was created or something.  Everyone held hands and sang songs and got along – right? WRONG.  The only problem that was starting to emerge was the fact that computer screens were seen as huge fortresses of unknown identities and people were starting to take advantage of them in a truly harmful way.  Who should be educating others that this behaviour is not right?  Parents? Teachers?  Other Gamers?  All of these could work , but how?

As I entered the college of Education – it really started to be my goal and mindset to make sure to educate people on how to create more positive spaces on the internet. To teach others that the behaviour as mentioned above is NOT acceptable and will not be tolerated.  Also, discussing with other teachers, parents and fellow gaming friends about how they could help with this mission.  I am one person, I do not rule the world. This is when I got involved in online radio.  Radio – what does THAT have to do with anything?

Music had always been a passion of mine and having a voice, as you been reading, obviously is important as well.  I wanted to combine the two. This would be one of the ways. I will be discussing this next week.  I will leave you with these two different instances that pushed me to “try harder” and make sure my students don’t become part of the problem or heaven forbid – a Troll.

Story 1 – The Teenager Who Said Too Much. How “Jk” and “Lol” don’t cut it when making serious comments.

Last year a teenager from Texas , after playing a game of “League of Legends” , threatened another by saying they were going to “bomb their school”   Where the internet communities used to just let comments like this just slip by…this was no longer the case. The teenager was facing 8 years in jail after someone reported him with the newly implemented reporting tools.  Read the article here:

http://www.gamespot.com/articles/texas-teen-jailed-after-league-of-legends-argument-out-on-bail/1100-6411365/

Showing examples like this to my students, as a gamer, would soon go on to strengthen my cause.

Story 2  – Attending PAX Prime – Penny Arcade Expo. 

In 2011, I attended a session on the Anti-bullying moments being made in the video gaming industry and how different groups were working to make communities more positive online. All I could think is – this should be discussed in our classrooms as well – not just within video gaming communities! I also found allies among the panelists.  As well I was introduced to one of the most craziest sites ever – http://fatuglyorslutty.com/  

"Baby Girl Working On Laptop" by redactie ikvader.nl

“Baby Girl Working On Laptop” by redactie ikvader.nl via Flickr

Please do not share that last site with your students – but do take a look if you…dare. These are people in our society and this is how they are treating eachother. My mission was clear after this….as a gamer,teacher, role model and member of society…I had to make a difference.

In the weeks to come …. Yes I am leaving you hanging about why I am a Gamer. If you read on the whole picture will come together.

Part 2 will be continued next week as we take a look at how I created a plan to help create more positive spaces and lead by example on the internet in these communities.

 

Part 3 – How you can get your students involved and what my current projects are. What others are doing around the globe in the video gaming communities.

My trek to blogging again – fired and fueled by digital citizenship!

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As you can see, I haven’t blogged in a while. MOOCs actually got me blogging to begin with. Here I stand again or sit for that matter, ready to blog!  I will be participating in the DCMOOC on Digital Citizenship. Why you ask?  Well, as an educator, this is definitely something I am passionate about teaching and sharing with my students.

How can you join?

Head to dcmooc.ca and register! There are already over 650 people from all over the world registered for it.

Follow #dcmooc on twitter and connect with everyone who is participating as well.  ( Oh and you can follow me via @TechRhonda)

Well “Blog Land” – here I am…let the adventures begin!

 

 

- Rhonda

Blogging and my students!

Over the past month my computer/career class that I have with the grade 6 and 7’s has been a blast! They collectively have been running a charity group that they named “Change 4 Change” – with that I have been encouraging them to blog about their adventures.

Here is an example of one of my student’s websites :

 
Weebly is a great source that I would recommend to any teacher! The best part you might ask? It is FREE! :)  (we all love that…right?)
 
Well – keeping it short for today! Just wanted to share some classroom successes.

Sharing is Caring – learning for the future!

ImageTonight I participated in a session called “The Connected Learner” at the #etmooc (etmooc.org) and I wanted to make a comment on something that I find was very important that came out of it.

Many people were mentioning that some teachers in their schools don’t share their work. In the past, I know some teachers were scared of losing their work to other teachers or that binders might disappear…but hopefully we don’t have to worry about that anymore.

As we move forward teachers should start looking forward towards things like livebinder.com or Google Docs to help share their work in the classroom. These are free tools and can really create some great avenues for sharing something that works. It goes back to that old saying “Why re-invent the wheel?” In an ever growing learning society where items are hands on and students are more engaged with technology, teachers should be working together.

On a new scale, teachers should also be looking to their students for learning experiences as well. As many have noted, students often remember their learning better than ever if they actually practice it or find a connection. Encourage your students to bring ideas to you and share what they know from their own backgrounds.

All in all, as this picture above points out! We will all be doing ourselves a huge favor by sharing what we learn and what we know that works! The more collaboration, the more learning. Isn’t that why we all got into the teaching profession in the first place? :)

Other places for collaboration:

http://sixrevisions.com/tools/15-free-tools-for-web-based-collaboration/

http://cooltoolsforschools.wikispaces.com/Collaborative+Tools

…..and don’t forget that I always encourage sharing on Pinterest! :)

When is too much – too much?

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Would you have this 24 Karat Gold Laptop with Diamond Logo in your collection?

This question is often brought up among anyone and everyone I know and I figured after stumbling on this post via Pinterest I would shed my feelings on the topic.

The question at hand is ” When does technology take it too far?”

I guess when we really look at this question we have to ask ourselves – it is a matter of opinion and likes. As I have been diving into Pinterest I am really starting to open my mind to other people’s points of view. Pinterest in all means are exactly this. Would I see this toilet in my house? Probably not- but I am sure it has its place in the world.

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Our society has become very driven by what will sell and what won’t. What will be the latest trend and how soon after will it just be tossed aside. I think reflecting on this is pretty important around this time in January too, as we start to think twice about some of the gifts we received during the holidays – did we really NEED that item that is collecting dust now?  As an educator I too have to spend time sorting through what I need and what I just simply have to drool over. I think it is my job as well to save my students from making poor choices when they are faced with a world of choices.

Take the time to sit down with your children, students or (husband/boyfriend) haha and explain why sometimes we should support creativity and sometimes we should just step back and realize how ridiculous things really are. That macbook at the top of this post surely is a great computer, but when something is truly unnecessary, I often begin to wonder.

Just a small thought from me tonight as we see new developments increasingly smack us straight in the face! Be wary when buying and be wary what you promote. You might just end up with a fish tank toilet one day….and not even realize what you are doing as you are caught up in the trends of today’s social media promotions!

Pictures and Topics are taken from:

http://www.ohgizmo.com/2008/09/19/fish-tank-friday-bathroom-aquaria/

http://www.engadget.com/2007/10/06/the-24-carat-gold-macbook-pro-with-diamond-studded-apple-logo/

My first ETMOOC Assignment – An Introduction

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Wow – So since I am new to blogging I realize – hey I forgot to introduce myself. EEP!

Well- how do I ever begin.  First thing  – I am a teacher by profession. I teach at a small school in Cando, Saskatchewan. My teaching areas mainly focus around computer classes from Elementary and Middle Years..but I am also taking on the task of teaching Communication Media and Technology, Media Studies and Journalism to High School students as well.

When I am not teaching- I am at home working on my 2 projects that also are becoming a big part of my teaching career as well. The Gaming World Entertainment Network (gw-en.com) and Gamers Giving Back (gamergivingback.com) They both work hand in hand with eachother as one is a online radio station that has a focus in Online Gaming Communities, while the other supports and promotes charity work done in the same communities.

When I am not being a workaholic, I am an avid video game player and dabble in all sorts of areas. I often get remarks like…”SAY WHAT??? A Teacher- a gamer?”  Yes and one day in the near future I hope to go back and get my Masters in Educational Technology with a focus on video game integrated learning.

To sum up my life so far- I get to do my favorite things all as part of my job, hobby and lifestyle.

What is up for me in the future- well I guess only time will tell! – Maybe I could travel?  (That definitely leads to a huge TO BE CONTINUED)